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Process Technology 29.07.2011

Green Alternative To Pasteurisation A Reality With FDA

The FDA has approved the commercial use of ultra violet light for the liquid purification of…

The FDA has approved the commercial use of ultra violet light for the liquid purification of fruit juices as an approved technology alternative to pasteurisation, to remove, reduce or inactivate pathogenic organisms that might prove harmful to humans if ingested.

This is according to SurePure marketing executive, Steve Miller, who says that the FDA approval removes any doubt that photopurification technology may be safely and legally used by the fruit industry, and removes the last remaining barrier to commercial exploitation of the technology for fruit juice producers around the world.

“This is great news for the fruit beverage industry and for SurePure, which holds the patent for the only known commercial ultraviolet system in the world capable of treating turbid liquids,” he says.

The caveat is that the FDA has stipulated the requirement for turbulent flow under the approval. “You absolutely have to have turbulent flow to ensure truly effective, efficient and consistent inactivation of pathogens in turbid liquids like fruit juices,” Miller explains.

Miller says that the FDA approval is great news for producers and marketers of fruit juices globally. “Specifically it means producers in the USA and importing into the USA, can safely and legally use our technology.”

From a broader perspective, he says that it also means that other fruit juice producing and consuming nations will have to acknowledge the efficacy, safety and legality of the SurePure photopurification system.

He points out that the major benefits for manufacturers of fruit juices utilising photopurification technology include less chemical intervention with complete food safety resulting in a healthier, tastier, safe juice. “It is perfectly placed to overcome the growing concerns consumers have with the addition of artificial preservatives to juices,” he adds.

Miller says that the new technology is also a big win from a sustainability point of view. The photopurification method differs to the traditional methods of purification in that it uses light instead of heat treatment (pasteurisation). “It offers significant, planet-friendly energy savings without using the energy of pasteurisation. It is a far less invasive treatment of the juice, so flavours and nutrients stay intact,” he adds.

With regard to the commercial take up of the technology for use in the purification of fruit juices, Miller says that it is in its infancy stages but that there has been positive feedback. “We have had enthusiastic early responses from the major international producers and large US retailers we have approached, some of whom we are seeing in the next few weeks.”

African retailers are also embracing the technology. “A major, premium retail chain that has embraced this technology has developed a differentiated range of juices, for which they charge a significant premium, and which underpins their ‘green’ brand story,” he adds.

With the new Consumer Protection Act and recently promulgated legislation around more accurate product labeling, Miller reckons major South African juice marketers are in for a wake-up call. “When consumers start to understand how much preservatives are in the juices they feed their kids, or how little nutrient value is left after the ultra-high levels of heat their juice has been subjected to, some brands are going to suffer.” A shift to this new technology is timeous and sensible, he says.

He says that the technology is also attracting attention from international alcohol brand owners and brewers looking to use this technology for the purification of alcoholic fruit juices.

In SA last year, SA’s Department of Agriculture ratified the use of SurePure technology for liquid purification in cellars. He says that the new law is testament to the forward-thinking and proactive approach from industry leaders and legislators and helps keep SA at the forefront of wine and fruit technology in the world.

“SA and Europe enjoy the SA/EU wine agreement, which mandates reciprocity of technology, so the legalisation of the technology in SA and the FDA approval also paves the way to ratification by the EU, which is exciting for SurePure and the SA wine and fruit beverage industry,” he says.

He adds that in those countries and estates where some fruit juices are still pasteurised, photopurification is an obvious replacement technology. “Our technology is already being used by other industries for photopurification of liquids like milk, wine and sugar syrups and we see great potential for our technology in the fruit beverage industry,” he concludes.

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